Massage and Emotional Wellbeing

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When we are physically well and our body is in good shape the impact of the stress upon us will be far less than it would if we were unfit.  With a well-tuned body we are better able to handle the demands of life, express ourselves and project our personality and needs.  Indeed, it could be said that the body is a barometer, measuring the degree to which we are functioning effectively.  When we are unfit this not only makes it more difficult to cope with the many pressures upon us, but it also adds to the levels of stress we experience.

When we hold onto external stress, whether physical or psychological, it is manifested as “tension” in the body.  Its impact upon us may be imperceptible.  We may not even be aware that we are holding on to stress at all.  Sometimes, the first sign that indicates an accumulation of internalised stress is a noticeable increase in clumsiness and poor           co-ordination.  At a more subtle level, rigidity is present and the free flow of movement is inhibited.  Energy levels, too, may be noticeably impeded, as we may feel lethargic (slowed) or agitated (hyper-arousal).

If we are unable to release the build up of internalised tension this can result in headaches, tightness (often neck and shoulders), aches and pains (commonly stomach or lower back), the immune system can become deficient and we are more susceptible to colds and illness.  Likewise, even symptoms such as dry hair, skin rashes and poor sleep patterns frequently result from internalised stress and tension.

Stress is such a common feature of everyday life as to be regarded as “normal” and while this is true to some extent, stress levels are definitely up and the demands on us now are far greater than ever before in human history.  Most of us can adapt to moderate levels of stress, particularly short-term, but so often though, the result is ill-health.  Anything from colds and flu, to Angina, heart attack, conditions like depression, even cancer, has been linked to stress.

Underpinning the symptoms of stress can be unresolved trauma, or sudden shock, and similarly there may have been a build up or accumulation of stress over a long period.  Stress can arise as the result of internalised emotion such as anger, guilt or worry.  Whatever the cause, the important thing to do is to listen to the body and identify causative factors and then work to release the excess stress which gives rise to muscular tension.  The body can then begin to return to a more harmonious and balanced state.

Touch is something which is often absent from many peoples lives and it can be very healing. We actively need to be touched for our emotional health. This need is more than   simply a desire. It is a physiological necessity that, if unsatisfied can have profound            psychological effects. Research has shown that even a 30 minute neck and back massage can reduce depression. It can lower levels of stress related hormones and make people more alert, less restless and able to enjoy deeper, more  restful sleep.

The mode of body therapy that I practise is known as pulsing. In my opinion it is particularly well suited to promoting emotional well-being.  It is a very effective and gentle mode of bodywork with its emphasis on listening to the body and working directly with the natural rhythms and movement; assisting the free flow of energy and working to restore the natural resting state which occurs when the body is at ease.  Pulsing utilises gentle, rhythmic rocking movements to facilitate the release of stress, either on the physical, psychological or emotional level.  Amid continual rhythmic rocking the client is transported to a place of blissful peace and tranquillity, reminiscent, perhaps, of the womb or being rocked in a parent’s arms.  The ebb and flow of the breath is mirrored in purposeful movements, sometimes subtle and barely perceptible, other times lively and bold.  With no strain whatsoever, the body is moved gently through natural pathways, promoting mobility and encouraging relaxation and openness.  The wave-like movements bring about very deep relaxation as muscular tension is eased.

Clients learn how to recognise physical tension and how to let it go.  Often in so doing, emotional pain will be released and equilibrium will be restored along with a deepened sense of vitality and peace.  At the hands of an experienced practitioner, the gentle rhythmic movement can leave you feeling like you are dancing on a cushion or air.  As you learn to let go of bodily stress you will be better prepared to move forward and face life’s challenges.

For more information or to book a taster session please contact us.

Until next time.

With best wishes, Steve.

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to

Steve Clifford, Psychotherapist and body worker.

Visit us @

Ask us your mental health questions anytime @

Tweet us @ cbt4you


Alexander J. (2001) Mind, Body ,Spirit, Carlton Books, London.

Kirsta A. (1987) The book of stress survival,  Gaia Books Ltd, London.

We value your stories, experiences, tips etc.

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Your Mental Health Matters was founded in 2013 as a community committed to promoting mental health, ending stigma and supporting people affected by mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and other mental health related difficulties.

It is also aimed at promoting mental health in general, for example where individuals might be experiencing conditions such as stress and worry. It also embraces the wider context of improving well-being by highlighting global concerns such as rapid social change, stressful work conditions, gender discrimination, social exclusion, unhealthy lifestyle, risks of violence and physical ill-health and human rights violations.

It is intended to be a forum in which like-minded people can contribute and share experiences within a supportive community through blogs, daily news and mental health information. It supports all other communities, organisations, charities and forums. It does not discriminate between voluntary, charitable, NHS or private providers of mental health care or mental health promotion.

We welcome guest blog submissions and encourage you to write about mental health.We value your recovery stories, experiences, tips etc.

 We would like to request that when you submit your blog article that you avoid the following:

  • Use of language which could cause distress
  • Advertising or commercial promotion
  • Requests for financial support
  • Being disrespectful to others
  • Rudeness or badmouthing others

We reserve the right to edit blogs or not publish. We reserve the right to do so without explanation. We hope that we can help you to have your say and will endeavour to use appropriate images to support your blog or include your photographs where desirable.

With all good wishes Steve

Please email your submission posts to 

Visit us @                                                                                      Like us @                                                Tweet us @ cbt4you

10 tips to improve your child’s emotional health

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Are you worried about your child’s emotional well-being? Well here are some tips that you might find useful. Happy children have good mental health, secure family relationships, enjoy good relationships with their peers and are emotionally balanced.

Here are ten suggestions worth following:

1. Encourage emotional expression.

Allow your child to express their emotions, whether that be anger, sadness, worry or fear. Do not laugh, ridicule or humiliate them. Even if they are expressing emotions you find difficult to handle, do not withdraw or withhold your love.

2. Be consistent.

Ensure that your child knows what you expect from him or her. Try not to send confusing and unclear messages. Remember, children are not mind readers. If you have a partner make sure that you are both singing from the same hymn sheet.

3. Rules are rules.

Set clear rules and boundaries. We all like to know where we stand. Do not make idle threats. If you do impose sanctions, make sure you always carry them through, that way your child will know you mean business and they will learn to trust you.

4. Do not compete with your child.

In other words do not try to get one better over your child. When they are upset do not try to outdo them and become more upset than they are. It is not their job to comfort you.

5. Do not put down your child’s other parent.

If you have broken up with the child’s other parent, do not say unkind, hurtful or critical things about them. No matter how unkind they may be, or how much you may be hurting. Fighting and point scoring can be a major source of anxiety to a child.

6. Foster independence.

Sooner or later all children will express thoughts or emotions that are different from your own. Encourage them to be inquisitive and to explore new things, meet new people and have experiences that you may never have experienced. This is how they learn.

7. Try not to bask in reflected glory.

Your self esteem should not be linked to your child’s appearance, behaviour or how well they do academically. Their performance does not reflect on you as their parent. By all means, give praise for things well done, but do not punish or withhold love and approval if they do not do well.

8. Their friends are not your friends.

Try not to get overly enmeshed in your child’s friendships. Make their friends welcome without becoming overly involved. When they get older try not to interfere with their love relationships.

9. Bad behaviour, not bad children.

When your children are misbehaving, remember they are not “bad” children. It is merely their behaviour that is “bad.”All behaviour means something. Step back and see if you can spot the meaning.

10. Children are children.

Finally – Remember that children and adults have different needs and expectations. Children are not “mini grown-ups.” They want different things.

Until next time.

With best wishes, Steve

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to                                                                                              

Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist                                                          Visit us @

Ask us your mental health questions anytime @:

Tweet us @ cbt4you

Ref: “8 Surefire Ways To Emotionally Screw Up Your Kid,”Julie de azevedo Hanks, 8 March 2012, [Accessed 29/03/14].

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“Anti-Gay” Therapy Banned.


I find it surprising that in this day and age that some people think that “therapy” can used to “cure” Lesbian and Gay people. Yet, until recently a technique known as”conversion therapy” was used by some therapists in an attempt to converting homosexuality to heterosexuality.

In America results showed that it has a negative effect on mental health and as a consequence The Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC) have stopped the practice. The ACC suggested that the treatment “implied that sexuality can be ‘repaired’ and so introduces the idea of treatment or cure”.

In 2012, a psychotherapist who had been on the ACC register became the first in history to be “struck off” after practising this type of therapy when the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) found her guilty of “professional malpractice”.

With best wishes, Steve

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to                                                                                              

Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist                                                           Visit us @

Ask us your mental health questions anytime @:

Tweet us @ cbt4you

Source: Swaby C. “Conversion Therapy’ banned by Christian counsellors”, Sussex Counselling & Psychotherapy News, February 2014. pp7


Good Sleep Tips for Children

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Here are some useful tips to help children develop good sleep habits.                                           

Getting a good sleep pattern is important.  Children will have better sleep if they go to bed at the same time each day. This should also be the same at weekends and holidays. Bed time should not vary by more than an hour between school and non-school nights. Waking up should also be at the same time every day.

It is good to have the same routine before bed each night. This will help prepare for sleep. Quiet activities are good e.g. reading a book or being read to or having a bath or shower.                                                                                                                                                   Make sure the bedroom is comfortable. The bedroom should be a quiet, peaceful and dark. The child may welcome a night light. This is fine. The bedroom should be a cosy, safe, refuge – a good place to be.

Remember a bed is for sleeping, not entertainment. TV, computers, mobile phones and other things that may distract a child from sleep. Such activities are not good for sleep. Keep them out of the bedroom. “Needing” the TV to go to sleep is a bad habit. This can easily develop, but you really don’t want it to happen if you can.

A snack before bed may help with sleep. It’s harder to sleep on an empty stomach. Children should not consume a heavy meal within one to two hours of going to bed.

Caffeine is a stimulant.  Caffeine is found in many popular drinks. These include coffee, tea and cola soft drinks. It can make it harder to get to sleep. Children should have as little of these as possible, and certainly not after lunchtime.

Try to discourage daytime naps, unless the child is really tired. Very young children however may benefit from a nap. For older children a nap after 4pm can make it harder to get to sleep at night.

Exercise and time outside is good. Daily exercise is an important part of healthy living. It also helps with good sleep. Time spent in bright daylight does the same. Outdoor exercise achieves both things. It is best to steer clear of heavy exercise in the hour before sleep.

Keeping the bedroom on the cool side is good for sleep.

If the child has difficulty getting to sleep or wake in the night, tell them to just try to relax and calm down. Tell them not to worry about trying to sleep. You may like to suggest they think of a nice holiday or a special place where they might imagine they are taking their favourite teddy or pet.

I hope you find this useful

With best wishes, Steve

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to                                                                                              Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @                                                                                      Ask us your mental health questions anytime @                                                                  Tweet us @ cbt4you


Remember the Positives – Beat #Depression


Tip 6 – Extract from “50 Tips to Beat Depression” available on Amazon

It’s very easy when you are feeling down to lose sight of the positives.  One facet of depression is the way the depressed outlook shapes thinking.  The depressed person tends to ruminate on the negative things people say, and hears only critical comments. This is called “filtering out” and is a particular type of unhelpful thinking trait that often goes hand in hand with depression.  Instead of noticing things in a balanced way, we only notice things that “fit” our negative mind-set and we dismiss the positives. This in turn serves to reinforce low self-esteem and a negative outlook.

One way to turn this around is to create a positive book (see tip 25).  Buy a small exercise book, and if you are creative, cover it with a bright paper cover or positive images from magazines.  Use this book to jot down positive things that happen, positive things people say and positive things that you have achieved during the day.  Slowly you will begin to notice more and more positives as you learn to hear them and not dismiss them from your radar.

Consultant Psychologist Rick Norris, in his excellent book, “The Promised Land,” recommends compiling a list of 20 positive memories.  He acknowledges that this can be somewhat overwhelming, as depressed people get out of the habit of playing memories that make them happy, because their mental filter tends to screen these out of their conscious mind.  He suggests recalling three positive memories each day for a week. He tells us the benefit of doing this exercise last thing at night is because it can be a pleasant way to drop off to sleep and also that we tend to be more in tune with our sub-conscious mind during sleep, perhaps  leading to sweeter dreams!

With best wishes, Steve

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to                                                                                               Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @                                                                                      Ask us your mental health questions anytime @                                                                  Tweet us @ cbt4you

“A more connected generation.”

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The number of students seeking counselling has risen. Results of a survey of over a third of university counsellors in the UK has suggested that in the period 2010 to 2013 there has been a 16% increase in the number of students seeking counselling.

Why is this? A number of factors could underpin this increase including fee increases, more competition in the job market and the challenge of life transition. All of which could be increasing the pressure on students. It was also highlighted that signs indicated that students were coming for counselling with more complex and disturbing problems. One factor here is the inability of students to be able to access longer term NHS support.

Lead Advisor for University and College counselling at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Patti Wallace said: “While student numbers have remained stable or even decreased slightly, more are seeking help through university counselling services.”

One of the real plus points arising from the survey is the increase in students accessing on-line counselling with a rise of 85%, reflective of “a more connected generation.”

With best wishes, Steve

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to                                                                                              

Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist                                                             Visit us @

Ask us your mental health questions anytime @:

Tweet uscbt4you

Source: Swaby C. “Increase in students seeking counselling could signify a ” more connected generation.” Sussex Counselling & Psychotherapy News, February 2014. pp6

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Make a Comfort Box – Beat #Depression


Tip 3 – Extract from “50 Tips to Beat Depression” available on Amazon

It’s often hard to remember the good things in life when you are feeling low in mood.  At such times happiness and positive memories can seem far away.  Stimulating positive memories and associations can be invaluable in helping to keep us grounded in the real world and help lift the spirit.  Creating a “capsule” containing mementoes from the past can help to evoke feelings of comfort, warmth and personal security during difficult times.

A shoebox, biscuit tin or similar can be used to house objects to inspire hope.  I have a comfort box and mine includes a variety of objects: photographs and even “thank you cards” which I can use as “evidence” to support my being a worthwhile person.  I recommend any of the following:

CD, LP, MP3 of favourite music, chill-out, relaxation, etc.

DVD of favourite film with uplifting, or feel good theme, etc.

Photograph of a loved one or of something or somewhere of importance

Memento of a holiday, postcard, seashell, souvenir, foreign money, flight ticket stubs, booklet or programme from places visited

A note, card or letter from a loved one or write a letter to yourself when feeling well, offering encouragement and re-assurance that you will come through this difficult time

A favourite poem, statement, prayer or article that inspires hope

A favourite book, magazine or colourful picture

A favourite object, i.e. a small stone, crystal, lucky charm or something that is tactile

A sketchpad with crayons or watercolour paints

Aromatic oils for massage, scented candles, bath bombs or bath oils/salts

Herbal teas such as Chamomile, known for its calming properties

Favourite item of clothing, warm jumper or a blanket

A hot water bottle

Vouchers for a massage or beauty treatment

A list of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses of family or friends to whom you can turn for support (try to look for support from more than one person).

A list of national help lines e.g. Samaritans, Sane, MIND, etc. .

Any object associated with feeling happy and well.

With best wishes, Steve

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to                                                                                                Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @                                                                                      Ask us your mental health questions anytime at:                                                                  Tweet us @ cbt4you

It’s good to talk

Sometimes life can seem very overwhelming,  especially if you’re suffering with a mental health problem. For years I have suffered with anxiety and depression. It has affected every aspect of my life from my relationships with partners, friends and family, to my work and even my physical health. My chronic low self esteem has led me to walk with my head down for so many years that my neck and back have slowly deformed and I now have a small hunch. It’s just one more thing to hate about myself, and another reason why I felt I couldn’t live anymore, why I felt I didn’t deserve life.
When I planned my suicide the first time I was at an all time low, but strangely I didn’t recognise that. I felt calm and in control. I made meticulous plans and took my time stockpiling prescription and over the counter drugs. I cheerfully strolled into the supermarket and purchased alcohol. The checkout girl could be forgiven for thinking I was having a party, because in my head I was. I was finally going to be free of all the agonising feelings, the torturous thoughts and the confused state my mind was in. I had been looking forward to this day for weeks and had all my affairs in order. I went home, made sure I left the door unlocked, fed my cat, put on my favourite album and poured myself a large glass.
When I woke up in hospital initially I was devastated, how could it have gone wrong? But as I looked around at the tear stained worried faces I began to realise that maybe people did care about me. Maybe their lack of warmth and comfort towards me was really lack of knowledge and understanding. The question I was continually asked was “why didn’t you tell us that you felt so bad?” Well I thought it was obvious! But apparently it’s not obvious.
When you suffer from depression for a long time you can get very good at keeping your brave face on in public and the inner turmoil you’re feeling may not show on the outside. It’s only once you express that turmoil that people can begin to understand and maybe even help.
Unfortunately this revelation was not the end of my depression and I did wake up in hospital on another 3 occasions. However it did start my journey onto talking, writing and expressing the pent up feelings I had inside of me, which helped other people understand more. I am still suffering with my mental health but I am on the road to recovery. Letting the thoughts and feelings out rather than keeping them hidden in my head has taken the weight off and I feel a little freer of my illness every day.

Thank you anonymous

With all good wishes


Please email your submission posts to                                Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @                                                                                      Ask us your mental health questions anytime at:                                                                        Tweet us @ cbt4you

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Managing difficult emotions


 FREE WORKSHOP SERIES                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Friday 28 March 2014                                                                                                             Part 1 — Thinking errors


In March, Sarah Eva will be coordinating the first in a series of workshops at the Camden Centre in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

Sarah is an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and a UKRC Registered Independent Practitioner. She is an experienced and qualified counsellor and cognitive behavioural therapist with many years’ experience working in voluntary, educational, public and private sectors. These include The Priory, at both Brighton and Hove and Ticehurst, working with individual clients as well as facilitating CBT groups.

She provides consultancy to various Barnardo’s projects in Tunbridge Wells which includes working with young people and their carers covering issues of attachment and sexually harmful behaviours. She has worked in a local grammar school providing individual and group work over a period of five years whilst working with Fegans, a charity offering low-cost counselling to families, couples and individuals.

Friday 28 March 2014 

  • 2 pm — 3 pm prompt start 
  • The Camden Centre
    Market Square, Royal Victoria Place
    Tunbridge Wells TN1 2SW 
  • Please email or phone to secure your place as numbers are limited.